Anzac, the landing 1915 by George Lambert
On 25 April 1915, Australian Troops formed part of an invasion force that landed on the Gallipoli. In the minds of many Australians we tend to emphasise our own involvement - add our neighbours in New Zealand out of courtesy, include the Brits begrudgingly (it was their fault!) and forget everybody else. And I don't mean the Turks! In fact we acknowledge them before anyone else.
ANZAC troops at Lone Pine
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, casualties at Gallipoli included:
|- United Kingdom||21,255||52,230||73,485|
|- France (estimated)||10,000||17,000||27,000|
|- New Zealand||2,721||4,752||7,473|
|- British India||1,358||3,421||4,779|
|Ottoman empire (estimated)||86,692||164,617||251,309|
|Total (both sides)||130,784||261,554||392,338|
Wait - France?!? We didn't hear anything about French troops in Mrs Maxwell's Year 5 Social Studies class at Our Lady of Large Statues Primary School!
Sadly we do often forget that this day is also a day that other countries lost their sons as well - it is special for ANZACs because it was the first time the force had fought together and it was the start of something much more than war, it was the first growing pains of two young countries far from the rest of the world.
But yes, the French were there in force - and a small party of Newfoundlanders who really, really must have got a aboard the wrong ship. Actually the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was a notable battalion (1000 troops) who were the only contingent from North America to fight at Gallipoli landing there on 20 September 1915. The regiment fought as part of the rear guard during the evacuation and departed on the very last day of the campaign on 9 January 1916. On 1 July 1916, only a few months after the Gallipoli campaign, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment left their trenches at St. John's Road in Beaumont-Hamel on The Somme. within 20 minutes most of the Newfoundland Regiment who had started forward were dead, dying or wounded - the survivors of Gallipoli.
Royal Newfoundland Regiment at St John's Road, The Somme
I have to confess that I never really though much about the other national contingents even after I learned of their presence at Gallipoli in later studies - but it was a large contingent, and suffered a lot of casualties so they must have been operating in some pretty rough parts of the line. The French in particular would not have gone to war without coffee.
We know that the ANZACs had coffee - the Gunfire Breakfast of coffee laced with rum (or was it rum laced with coffee?) confirms that coffee was part of the daily ration. Across the ridge though I suspect that the Turks had access to better coffee - at least a little fresher than the stuff landed with the supplies.
Which begs the question - did the ANZACs or their allies ever capture Turkish coffee? And what did they do with it? I can imagine the French (which included Senegalese troops) would have had no trouble at all working up a brew, but the powder-fine turkish grind may have been a challenge for those less familiar with how to use it.
Turkish troops at Gallipoli
Troops in battle for a period of time - from any country, tend to demonstrate the adaptability that has allowed humans to survive in some pretty appalling conditions and these stories of innovation and creativity are often more interesting than the details of the fierce and bloody battles that create the need to adapt.
Fashioning a cezve from a tin can would be a simple enough task but getting used to the very different style of coffee drinking may have been a challenge. But what would the Turks do if they captured pre-ground coffee from the allies? I guess it might be possible to grind it finer but not necessarily - I have tried making turkish style coffee with coffee that is too coarse and it is just not quite the same.
Still - that is the lesser of the hardships on the battlefield I imagine.
It was a terrible campaign in many ways and a lot of Australian families lost loved ones. So did a lot of Kiwi families, British families, French families, Indian families, even more Turkish families and the lost of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
Lest We Forget
The Dardanelles Fleet